Tigers waiting to show their teeth

Danny Spencer returns
Danny Spencer returns

Holbeach United joint-manager John Chand can’t wait for the top-of-the-table UCL Premier Division clash at AFC Rushden & Diamonds on Saturday.

The showdown is all the more tasty after Diamonds took top spot on goal-difference with a 5-1 hammering of AFC Kempston Rovers on Tuesday night, opening the scoring after just 34 seconds.

In contrast, the Tigers’ title express came off the rails spectacularly after a 4-0 home defeat to Peterborough Northern Star last weekend, with three of the goals coming in the last five minutes of the match.

Chand said: “After a game like that, there’s no better way of getting your teeth back into things than with a game against a side going places like AFC Rushden & Diamonds.

“They are a well-drilled team, both on and off the pitch, and it will be difficult to go there and get a result, with the support they’ve got.

“But if you can’t turn up at Rushden & Diamonds and look forward to the challenge of playing on a decent pitch, against a decent side in front of a decent crowd, then you shouldn’t be in football.”

Inspirational Tigers captain Jamie Stevens misses the game through suspension but Holbeach can call on Danny Spencer again after missing last week’s setback at Carter’s Park.

Chand said: “We’ve been at the top of the league from the off and the season is going to have ups and downs.

“But it’s how you bounce back that’s important and we have a big game to look forward to on Saturday against a side that looks like they are scoring lots of goals and brushing teams aside.

“I’m sure many people won’t be giving us a chance but all the pressure is on AFC Rushden & Diamonds to continue their running as they are at the top of the league now.”

Chand is still waiting to hear if his right-hand man Graham Drury will be alongside him in the dug-out after he was red-carded during the defeat on Saturday.

“I don’t want to sit and criticise officials because it’s not the right thing to do publicly,” Chand said.

“But I don’t think the referee (Ian Wilson) had the best of games on Saturday and there were a few decisions that we shouted over to him about.

“I’d be pretty shocked if Graham had to serve a touchline ban and I think he’ll get a fine and a warning to keep his hands clean.”

Chand and Drury are working on a way to deal with teams looking to employ similar tactics to those of Peterborough Northern Star whose players managed to out-muscle and overpower the Tigers’ midfield and strikeforce.

“In a few games, our firepower has got us through but we’ll have to change things slowly,” Chand said.

“We’re under no illusions that Diamonds will fancy their chances, but games aren’t won and lost on unbeaten runs.

“We’ll be looking to stop Diamonds and we’ll have a near full quantity of people to choose from, except for Jamie Stevens who has picked up five yellow cards and will be suspended.

“But we’ll have Danny Spencer back who is the ultimate big-game player and nothing will faze him about Saturday.”